Opinion remains divided when it comes to the big coloured, lightning mosque on the head of Lombok, Utrecht. However, Lombok has got more to offer than this eye-catching building. I’ve been living in this neighbourhood for about 4 years already and can tell you all the (dis)advantages of this place. Leave the city centre and take a look at this colourful and vibrant neighbourhood!
Lombok was built between 1886 and 1920 as a typical housing estate. In the 70/80s the neighbourhood changed dramatically; because of its social balance, it became one of the first multicultural neighbourhoods. Nowadays, in the Kanaalstaat, the big street in the middle of Lombok, mainly Turkish merchants are selling their meet, bread, vegetables and döner. Lombok sometimes feels like being abroad in a little village in Turkey or Maroc; the little vegetable markets, people crossing the streets like there is no traffic at all and everybody seems to know everybody (and stops his car on the middle of the road).
People from everywhere in Utrecht do their shopping in Lombok, even if they live on the other side of Utrecht. I sometimes feel ashamed if I see them take the effort to come here, while I am too lazy and just do my shopping at the supermarket on the corner. However, in the Kanaalstraat you can do great shopping. Vegetables are twice as cheap as at Albert Heijn, Turkish bread tastes like heaven and there are many possibilities to buy spices, nuts and different kinds of cheeses. The people in the stores are extremely friendly. Sometimes when I forgot my cash, they let me pay the next day, without any receipts or writing it down, they just trusted me. That’s definitely not what we are used to in the Netherlands, where normally every penny is counted twice…
Lombok is full of great gastronomy as well; it is a mix of traditional and modern places. Café West, for instance, is a cosy Dutch restaurant. Café Lombok serves dishes from different countries and besides that, some beautiful special beers. Jasmijn en ik serves Cantonese food in small dishes, which makes you able to try a lot of different things. Besides that, this restaurant is mentioned in the Lekker, which is one of the leading guides for restaurants in the Netherlands. For the ‘koffieleuten’, Koffie en ik and Zwart goud are very comfortable and the coffee beans are carefully selected for the best coffee. Here you can meet the yuppen (young, childless adults with a modern life and a career) and the students who are also living in Lombok since the municipality gave Lombok a boost with renovations in the 80s.
Last but not least; Döner! Fur us Dutchies known as a midnight snack, the Turkish people in Lombok seem to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In Lombok we’ve got the best and the cheapest döner of Utrecht. There are bigger companies like the Kebab factory, which is literally under the mosque, but also very small ones where the workers know all their customers and sell their döner for ‘neighbourly prices’.